‘Pain’, according to Meridian Dictionary is defined as a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. According to NIH, Pain is defined as localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder (disease or injury). Allen Blinder defined pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or disease in terms of such damage.
Pain itself is not a disease but rather a phenomenon by which the body communicates to us about a disease, injury or tissue damage in order for us to take care of it or not to continue injuring or damaging the body. For example shoulder pain can be from heart, or lung disease. Pain at the base of skull can be from severe sinuses. It has been shown that where we are having pain may not be the origin or source of the pain. That’s why it’s important to perform a differential diagnosis to rule out other causes of the pain in the area, part or region of the body.
There are different kinds of pain based on and categorized according to the region, area or part of the body. There are many different types of pain.:
- Neck or cervical pain can be diagnosed as Spondylosis, bulging disc, herniated disc, radiculopathy, arthritis, or simply neck pain.
- Shoulder pain
- Thoracic pain
- Elbow pain, golfer’s elbow, and tennis elbow
- Lumbar pain, low back pain, disc herniation, and bulging disc
- Hip pain
- Knee pain, Patellofemoral pain, knee arthritis
- Ankle pain, arthritis
In this writing, I am going to discuss the role of physical therapy in the treatment of neck pain. Neck pain may be due to arthritis, bulging disc, Spondylosis, herniated disc, radiculopathy, severe sinuses, fracture, or strain of the neck.
For best physical therapy treatment plans and outcome, the history of how the condition started needs to be known, what make it worse or better, whether it is constant or intermittent. Is it getting worse or better with time? Are you having sinus problems? What kinds of medication are you taking? Are you having problems with shoulders? Was it starting sudden or gradual? Is it chronic or acute?
After an understanding of the history, physical examinations will check neck movement, shoulder joint movement, shoulder blade movement, sternoclavicular joint, acromioclavicular joint, spinal movement and the posture in standing to review each part in relation to one another and especially the neck in relation to shoulder, thoracic and cranial, muscle tension, and muscle strength.
Special tests may be performed in order to generate a diagnosis and the cause. A follow-up discussion with the patient to explain the findings and results of the condition/symptoms and plan of care will be established.
The treatment procedures for neck pain may be some of the following depending on the findings:
- Myofascial release
- Exercise with stretching or strengthening techniques.
- Joint mobilization
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Patient education and home exercises.
- Cranial therapy
- Neuromuscular re-education
- Application of moist heat to relax the muscle at the end of the treatment.
If you are suffering from neck pain and you have had physical therapy or pain management without relief or benefit do not rush to surgery or give up until you speak with us. The treatment you had might not have been the right one for you.
Raifu Olorunfemi, PT., MS.
- Meridian dictionary online
- National Institutes of Health, August 18, 2015
- Allen I. Blinder: Cervical Spondylosis and neck pain; BMJ. 2007-10, 334(7592) 527-530